Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Annex 3


Brussels, 15 January 2002

  The enlargement process, which Spain and the Spanish public opinion have always wholeheartedly supported, is undoubtedly one of the priorities of the Spanish Presidency. Spain is well aware of the historic relevance of this process leading to the reunification of Europe and wishes to underline its irreversibility.

  The objectives of the Spanish Presidency can be traced back to the Conclusions of the European Councils of Göteborg and Laeken. Spain intends to make a decisive contribution to ensuring that negotiations with all those candidate countries which are prepared can be concluded by the end of the second half of 2002.

  The principle of differentiation will continue to be applied in the negotiations and all candidate countries will be judged according to their own merits.

  The Spanish Presidency will do its utmost to comply with the targets of the "road map" and commits itself to trying to reach a common position of the European Union in all the chapters assigned by the "road map" for the first semester of 2002 (Agriculture, Regional Policy, Financial and Budgetary Provisions and Institutions), with a view to closing them provisionally if the necessary conditions are met.

  Spain acknowledges the excellent achievements of the previous presidencies and will spare no effort to complete the negotiations on those chapters that still remain open.

  Eighty-five chapters are still under negotiation and another thirty-eight must be opened. At this stage, the most complex and sensitive chapters need to be addressed, in particular those of financial content. Spain is very keen on conducting the negotiations on the basis of the principles laid down at the Laeken European Council, that is to say, the existing acquis and the financial framework established at Berlin.

  Spain is aware of the extraordinary progress made by the candidate countries throughout the accession process and invites them to continue their efforts to fulfil the conditions for membership unabatedly. This will allow the Spanish Presidency to pursue the negotiations as scheduled.

  The Spanish Presidency also considers a close co-operation with the Commission indispensable. The early presentation by the Commission of proposals to the Council in the fields of agriculture, regional policy and budgetary issues is of paramount importance. The Spanish Presidency is looking forward to receiving the proposals from the Commission in such a way as to allow the negotiations to be pursued at a sustained and balanced rhythm.

  Spain also counts on the support of the Member States in order to carry out the very exacting agenda foreseen for the negotiations over the next six months.

  A first general assessment of the effective implementation of the acquis by the candidate countries will be carried out by the European Council at Seville on the basis of the Action Plan to be drawn up by the Commission.

  The drafting committee for the Act of Accession will also be established during the Spanish Presidency. The committee is scheduled to start working as from the month of March.

  One of the Presidency's objectives is also to boost as much as possible the negotiations with Bulgaria and Romania. At Laeken, the efforts that they had made were recognised, and they were encouraged to continue to pursue the same course. Moreover, as a token of specific backing, the Commission was asked for a precise framework that included a time-table and an adjusted work plan that would make it possible to tackle all the chapters with these two candidate countries in 2002. Spain intends to address all the pending chapters with Bulgaria during this first six-months period, and will strive to do the same in respect of Romania as long as and when the necessary information and data are made available.

  Support will be given to the efforts being made as part of the on-going United Nations-sponsored drive to work out a political settlement for the Cyprus issue.

  In line with the conclusions of the Laeken European Council, the Spanish Presidency will encourage Turkey's pre-accession strategy, which should mark a new stage in analysing its preparedness for alignment on the acquis and, if required, set new objectives in the accession process.

  In principle, two Accession Conferences at Deputy level will be organised on 21 and 22 March and on 19 and 22 of April. Should the need arise, other Conferences at Deputy level could also be held. The Accession Conference at Ministerial level will take place on 10 and 11 June 2002.

  The Spanish Presidency attaches great importance to exploring new formulas of participation in order to further familiarise candidates with the EU's working methods, including meetings, at the highest level. For this reason, it plans to invite the Heads of State, Prime Ministers, Ministers of Foreign Affairs as well as Ministers of Economy of candidate countries to take part in the first day meeting of the Barcelona European Council on Friday, March 15.

  The Spanish Presidency considers it essential to ensure the necessary continuity in the negotiations and therefore wishes to offer its close co-operation to the future Danish Presidency.

previous page contents

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 16 October 2002